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UPDATE: NDP climate bill survives vote

C-311 moves to final reading in Commons

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Members of Parliament overrode opposition from the Conservative government today to move the NDP's Climate Change Accountability Act to third and final reading in the House of Commons. The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois sided with the NDP to move the bill into its final stages. The bill, which would require the federal government to abide by stringent targets cutting Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, will be debated one more time before a final vote. If, as seems likely, the Commons passes the measure, it would then move to the Senate.

Bill C-311 would require the government to set targets reducing emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020 and to 80 percent below by 2050. It would also require the federal Minister of the Environment to set an interim emissions reduction target for 2015 within six months after the bill becomes law.

Halifax NDP Member of Parliament, Megan Leslie, said last week that she feared Conservative procedural maneuvers might kill the bill. Today, however, 155 opposition members outvoted 137 Conservatives to move it forward.

The vote was identical to one held minutes earlier to approve a Liberal motion calling on the Harper government to adopt "a national climate change plan that implements economy-wide regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, and invests in renewable energy, clean technology and energy efficiency in order for Canada to compete in the new green economy."

The Liberals also issued a news release criticizing the Harper government's record on environmental issues.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, criticized the Liberals for their previous support of the NDP Bill C-311. Mark Warawa, the Conservative MP for Langley in British Columbia, told the Commons that Bill C-311 would divert Canada from the harmonized emissions reduction targets shared with the U.S. He said those targets would cut emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020.

"311 would also isolate Canada economically and throw us back into a deep recession," Warawa added.

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